When common road vehicles can't fly through the air, when tankers are too expensive to blow up off hand, and a computer generated dinosaur can't wreak realistic looking havoc on a off-road vehicle, you need to call in the computer graphics artists and their droves of workstations. If it's not a spaceship, it has to be something else, and that's where the other vehicles come in.
Mission Impossible's Bullet Train
[Image courtesy of the VFXHQ]
The second movie, Twister, required numerous vehicles of all different types. For the tornados to have their fun, computer generated tractors were created to be mixed with the real thing. Tires and pieces of vehicles were ILM's main concern, along with a few combines and a tractor for the background. Real equipment was constructed and lifted with helicopters. For another scene, in which an oil tanker is dropped in front of the main characters and explodes, a computer generated tanker was worked in with the real explosion. Most of the tankers work was for flying through the air. The CG model was much easier to put through the wild contortions wanted by the director than a full-size model. Other trucks, trailers and cars were created for flying background imagery, and a couple scenes for them flying through the air caught in the tornados grasp. Also, if they could be called vehicles, the little balls that carried the sensors into the tornado's fray at the end of the film were all computer generated.
Jurassic Park and Jumanji also had scenes that required some computer generated vehicles. When a tyrannosaur is attacking a park truck in Jurassic Park, the truck has to be built in the computer to interact with the tyrannosaur, which is likewise CG. Jumanji had the same difficulties in a scene where animals stampede through a city. Rhinos had to overturn cars, and an elephant was needed to step on a car. All of the vehicles being destroyed involved some computer graphics.
While the non-spaceship vehicles generated by computers don't receive nearly the amount of attention that the spaceships do, they have to stand up to far more scrutiny. These vehicles are often found in real life, and have to match with real vehicles used on the set. True, the animators have a basis with which to build the models, but so does the audience with which to observe them. And that under such scrutiny they usually stand up to the test, which makes them all the more remarkable.
Computer Effects: Twister
Visual Effects HQ: Twister
Visual Effects HQ: Mission Impossible
Computer Effects: Creatures, Jumanji
Computer Effects: Creatures, Jurassic Park
Last Updated August 21, 1996